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9 FREE Financial Services to Help you DOMINATE your Financial New Year’s Resolutions

Last updated by on 10 Comments

Sometimes the best things in life are really free after all. Well, OK, personal finance services and strategy rarely fits in the ‘best things in life’ category, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important in helping you to focus more on the things that are truly the best in your life.

Many of the services I will mention have ‘non-free’ (paid) alternatives. What’s particularly great about this list is that the free offerings do not suffer in their quality in comparison to its paid competitors. In fact, many are industry leaders – or will soon be someday – in their niche.

And some of these things aren’t services at all, but rather, ways that you can get free money that you might be missing out on. No catch, other than the fact that you have to be motivated and execute, which is always easier said than done. What better time of year than the beginning?

free financial services

Free Checking

free checking accountThere has been widespread concern that new consumer protection from bank overdraft fees would wipe out the ‘free’ part of free checking accounts. Many banks have eliminated free checking accounts, but some of the best online banks have not followed suit. The two best online checking accounts I’ve found are:

  • Everbank Yield Pledge Checking: $0 monthly fee, $1,500 to open, free checks, zero ATM fees (they also reimburse), and a high starting interest rate of over 1%.

Free Stock Trades

free_stock_tradesCheck out OptionsHouse, a discount broker that is now offering free Nexus 7′s with a new account.

You can also get up to $125 in transfer fees reimbursed if you are switching from another online broker.

Free Credit Cards

When the Credit Card Act passed earlier this year, there was widespread fear that it would lead to more credit card issuers charging annual fees, particularly on cards with cashback rewards. Many of them did, however, the best rewards cards out there still have no annual fee. A few of my faves are:

  • Discover it card: No annual fee, 0% intro APR’s on purchases and transfers, up to 5% cashback in specified categories (and up to 1% on everything else), and up to 20% cashback when you shop at Discover partners. For more, check out my Discover it card review.

As with all credit cards, in order to make them ‘free’, and even get cashback in a meaningful way, pay your balance in full each month.

Free Credit Score

Credit Karma is a completely free credit score reporting service that offers up your TransUnion credit score. Although not the FICO score used by lenders, it should give you a close approximation to what your FICO score might be. There are no hidden free trials (then get screwed with a monthly charge) and no credit card is required to sign up.

Credit Karma also announced that they are now offering free credit monitoring! This is a service that usually costs $15/month!

How does Credit Karma offer this free service? Much like the Mint.com monetization model, Credit Karma will offer up partner services as a way for you to save money.

Free Money

free moneyYes, you heard me right. Free money. No joke. You just have to have a little patience, Axl (like wait until you’re 65 type patience). If your employer matches funds that you contribute to your 401k, get as much as that free money as possible.

So many young professionals overlook this very important employment perk and they’ll be kicking themselves later in life for not having taken advantage of it and letting that free money compound over the years. It’s free money, folks! It may be the only time you’ll ever get it.

Free Capital Gains

tradekingAfter you’ve received your employer’s free 401k matching funds to the max extent that they offer, it’s time to go Roth – Roth IRA, that is. Since all funds that you contribute to a Roth IRA are pre-taxed, any capital gains that you make in the future are tax free. Check out the 2011 Roth IRA contribution limits (same as 2010) to find out how much you can contribute next year and start planning ahead.

On top of free capital gains, TradeKing offers up IRA’s that do not charge an annual fee. I house my Roth and Traditional IRA’s with them.

Free Tax Software

free efileLike it or not, it’s time to start working on filing your 2010 taxes. Tax software makers Turbotax and H&R Block both offer up free 1040EZ federal tax software and free federal e-filing (state is extra on both), which should be sufficient enough for 60-65% of Americans who do not itemize tax deductions (a crazy stat, if you ask me).

Free Personal Finance Software

free personal finance software mintIf you haven’t used Mint.com yet? What is stopping. In full disclosure, I’m slightly biased as I write for Mint, but I was using their service long before I started doing so and have continued to get a lot of value from Mint’s free budgeting and planning capabilities. You can get automated net worth and account balance updates, find out what others in your area are spending on certain categories, and suggestions on how to save money. And it’s all free. Many knock-off services out there are charging for less.

If you’re looking for something that is simple and basic, check out my free to download budgeting spreadsheet.

Free Credit Report

free credit report annualcreditreportcomDon’t let marketing companies in disguise offer you credit reports (for free or paid), when you can 3 free credit reports per year. AnnualCreditReport.com (the real-deal website, mandated by the federal government) offers you three free credit reports annually. Otherwise, it’s likely a free credit report scam you’re looking at. Space out your free credit reports every 4 months to consistently check for discrepancies.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!


About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


10 Comments »
  • Alex says:

    GE, this is EXTREMELY helpful. I knew about half of these, but the other half I did not (the free checking with interest and Credit Karma I will be checking out). And you’re right, a little reminder for motivational purposes does come in handy. Happy New Year!

  • twentysomethingmoney says:

    I’ve been using Mint for a couple weeks now, and like it. The fact that it has an iPhone app, makes it incredibly accessible, even when I’m away from a computer. Plus, it gives me notifications when I’m reaching a particular budget — pretty good to stay on course with!

  • BROKE PROFESSIONAL says:

    I always want to try Mint and I always get nervous about sharing so much information. I know its not a logical worry but its something i cannot shake.

    Ally has been a good bank, in my opinion. They always have good rates.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      @ Broke – I had the same initial concerns with Mint – and they are valid concerns. I have not heard of Mint having any security breaches to this date, but I suppose that is always on the table.

      • Melanie says:

        I did have some concerns as well, I have been using them since December but did a lot of research before I took the plunge. They have bank level security (somewhere below military security according to some independent reviews), and being an Intuit company gave it enough weight to make me feel comfortable about not being scammed. I absolutely love being able to see exactly when my automatic deposits and other transactions take place right on my phone. Seeing my net worth change, the budget alerts and all accounts from credit cards, investment accounts and my HSA are helpful too.

  • Stefani Whylie says:

    I just want to point out that Roth IRS contributions are actually post-tax. So essentially you pay taxes on contributions up front, but your money grows tax free. Whereas with the traditional IRA, your funds are contribution pre-tax, but you pay tax on the gain.

  • Stefani Whylie says:

    OK. I probably read that incorrectly. I’m a tax accountant, so whenever I see pre-tax, my brain instantly thinks “contribution before payroll tax,” not already taxed.

  • fool says:

    TANSTAAFL
    There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

    Or as they say, caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. Mint/Intuit use your data to sell you more financial products (those sponsored credit card ads, not necessarily bad, but it ain’t free). They also have agglomerated data based on geographic location, income, age and gender which they will be or are already offering some companies to sell you stuff. The information may not be associated with your name and social security but it is associated with your email and zip code.

    If you are worried about it, don’t use mint.
    Disclosure: I use mint and quite like it myself.

  • Tyler says:

    Have you looked into USAA bank? Their bank offers free checking, free trades on all USAA mutural funds (they have a lot), they will pay up to 15 dollars a month in ATM transaction fees (usually about 5 withdrawls/month), 2% cash back on most credit card purchases, and auto/home insurance that is cheaper than any of the major companies I looked into. Their customer service is also superb. The only catch is that they don’t have many branches. If you recieve a lot of checks, you can deposit them at certian UPS stores or mail them into USAA. You have to be in the military or a direct family member of another USAA customer.

  • Shobir says:

    This is extremely helpful, thanks. Normally I would pay for some of these services but this list makes everything much simpler. I’m going to join everyone one of these sites and make a commitment to using the facilities to further my finances. Excellent article and thank you!

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